Daring To Be Different: Burkentine Builders challenges the status quo with its designs and creative use of technology.
By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
To coincide with its 30th anniversary, Burkentine Builders is rolling out its new Farmhouse series and introducing an ultramodern way of using technology for viewing model homes. Mike Burkentine, co-owner and vice president of sales and business development for the Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland-based company, says that his “digital model home” will be the first of its kind. “You will be greeted by a sales person who is not physically present at the home,” he says. “It’s a live interaction through digital technology.”
How does it work? After a potential homebuyer rings the doorbell, he or she is then greeted by a live person through a speaker and the door is unlocked. Once inside, the person is given instruction on where to go to speak one-on-one with a live representative through a digital screen. “I don’t have to have someone sitting at the home 24-7,” Burkentine says. “But homebuyers can still have their questions answered by a live human being – just digitally. In our modern day one-click Amazon.com culture, we want what we want when we want it. I wanted to bring that same cultural ideology to new home sales.”
To make it happen, Burkentine formed a committee made up of smart home advisors and tasked them with brainstorming ideas for a method that would allow potential homebuyers to view homes when it was convenient for them – without having to make in-person appointments with a sales representative.
Pushing The Envelope
The company’s first digital model home will launch in March. The technology will be used to showcase Burkentine Builders new Farmhouse series, which the company rolled out last year when it went through a rebranding. “We focus on building a culture of happiness that inspires our employees and customers to challenge the status quo and allow families to live different,” Burkentine says.
The rebranding included redesigning the Burkentine Builders logo and introducing the company’s new “Live Different” slogan, which reflects how the firm sees itself, its designs and its customers. “We are constantly pushing the envelope for change,” he says. The “Live Different” slogan especially applies to Burkentine Builders’ new Farmhouse series, that the company believes will push its products to a new level and introduce the local market to a different experience.
“When we met with our team to discuss how to push ‘Live Different’ in architecture, we came up with the Farmhouse series,” Burkentine says. “We wanted to craft something totally different in our market. It took about a year’s worth of planning to put all these packages and options together and it took us building spec homes to bring it to the market.”
Featuring a crafty facade and functional floorplans, Farmhouse series homes are intended to challenge “normal” designs in the Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland market. The homes automatically stand out based on color alone. Then there’s the use of certain materials. Local wood, black windows, board and batten siding and stained front doors are apparent in many of the designs.
“One package has white vertical board and batten siding with black windows and stain-grained front door,” Burkentine says. “Inside the home, we give them the ability to add wood accent walls and barn doors that are made from local barns. This package is the most popular. But everything is a la carte. You can mix and match and make it your own.”
Another popular Farmhouse series option is with red farmhouse siding. It has white board and batten shutters, with white vertical siding. A stain-grade farmhouse front door and flower boxes accent the exterior. “We also use real Pennsylvanian barn roof tin,” Burkentine says. “It’s sourced from local barns and we use it for accent walls. The use of these materials create a welcoming feel in the home.”
Hitting A Homerun
When Burkentine Builders first introduced the Farmhouse series last year, the company didn’t know how the local market would react – since the style is so unique. But shortly after its first Farmhouse home appeared in the York County Homebuilders Association Parade of Homes, the houses started selling like hotcakes.
“We weren’t sure how this series was going to go over but now it’s everything we build,” he says. “It’s really catching on. We branded the fact that when you see this odd style, that’s a Burkentine home.” Burkentine Builders’ Farmhouse floorplans feature a lot of open space, natural light, have a very light feel and clean trim. Laminate flooring, which tends to resemble barn wood, is also very popular. Black hardware seems to be trending as well.
Burkentine Builders is noticing that many homebuyers want black hardware hinges, knobs, faucets, kitchen cabinet handles and bath accessories. “We’re also seeing a lot of old wood products,” Burkentine adds. “Like for the front porch post, we use a lot of cedar to give it that vintage, rustic feel.”
Examples of some of the different Farmhouse series home can be found on the company’s webpage at burkentine.com on the floorplans page. The company has even started incorporating its Farmhouse look into rental apartment buildings and townhouses.
As if it didn’t have enough of new and exciting projects in the works, Burkentine Builders has built itself a new state-of-the-art headquarters in Hanover, Pa. The company plans to be moved into its new home by March – just in time to celebrate its 30th anniversary in June. The new building, which took almost two years to build, will house 27 companies that fall under the Burkentine Real Estate Group umbrella – Burkentine Builders being one of them.
In line with its “Live Different” slogan, the building stands out. “It’s a very unique and intricate building,” Burkentine says. “It has an industrial style finish coupled with a rustic feel. And we have some pretty wild furniture – inspired by Google.” The building features raw steel structures on the inside, lots of barn wood accent walls, barn-style lighting and a barn metal exterior coupled with a wood siding component. Reflecting the culture of the company, the building dares to be different.
Over the decades, Burkentine Builders has grown from residential construction to commercial real estate, multifamily residential construction and the rental industry. The company is owned by Paul Burkentine as well as his sons, Michael, Bryce and Bryan. “A lot of companies know how and what they do,” Burkentine says. “But they don’t necessarily know why they do it. We have focused our attention on the why. As a result, we came up with these types of products. I think that’s what makes us different.”